The Three Doshas in Ayurveda

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The Three Doshas 

The holistic science of Ayurveda was planted more than 5000 years ago. In Ayurveda every person is unique with a different constitution of doshas. You must have come across with the words like dosha and prakriti while reading or learning about Ayurveda. In this article you will get to know what doshas are, how they work and what is their role in the diseases and their treatment.

What are doshas? 

Unlike other medical systems, Ayurveda not only focuses on the treatment of disease but also on maintaining the health of an individual. It believes that nature lies within us. Our body is composed of the 5 elements of the universe (ether, air, fire, water and earth). The three doshas present in our body express these five elements.

Three doshas are Vata, Pitta and Kapha, where –

  • Vata is qualities reflecting the elements fire and ether
  • Pitta is composed of fire and water
  • Kapha is composed of water and air 

Functions of Tridoshas

For maintaining health and curing disease these three doshas should be stable. When they are vitiated they cause a disease. The doshas get aggravated by similar properties and they get decreased by opposite properties. For instance, kapha is of cold characteristic. If we eat food that is cold in nature, kapha is increased in the body. On the other hand, if we eat food that is hot in nature, it decreases kapha.

Let’s have a look at the doshas and their work individually:

Vata

(Ref: Charak Samhita)

The power which helps in inspiration, expiration, walking, talking etc and in each and everything including excretion, parturition in an appropriate manner is known as vaata. Vata governs all the functions of mind and body. 

Vata depicts ether and air. Just like air is necessary for life on earth to function, everything is dependent on Vata in our body. Vata is known as the king of the doshas.

Vata has the following characteristics- 

  • Dry
  • Rough
  • Subtle
  • Mobile
  • Cold
  • Light

Vata is mainly located in the urinary bladder, large intestine, lumbar region, thigh, foot and bones.

It governs all the physiological functions of the body like nerve impulse, circulation, menstruation, movement of muscle, tissues and so on.

Psychologically it governs speech, flexibility and quickness of thought.

Pitta 

As it is composed of fire and water Pitta helps in digestion of food. All the metabolism is the result of pitta. The hormones, bile and enzymes present in our body are related to pitta. It breaks the complex food substances and provides us energy.

 Pitta has the following characteristics- 

  • Hot 
  • Light
  • Sharp
  • Oily
  • Acidic
  • Moving

It is present in sweat, fluids, lymph, blood and intestine. And they tend to generate heat.

Physiologically, all the conversion and transformation in our body and mind is the result of pitta.

It also helps us to see and is responsible for hunger, thirst and helps to keep the body soft and full of glow.

Jealousy, greed, will power, anger, high intellect is governed by pitta.

Kapha

Kapha helps in retaining moisture, in lubricating joints in the body. It provides physique and structure. Smooth functioning of our body parts is the result of Kapha. It also helps in providing stability, fertility, energy, patience, generosity in a human being.

It is present in joints, tendons, ligaments, connective and fatty tissues, lymph, lungs, chest, head, throat and mucus present in our body.

Physiologically it moistens the food we eat, it converts food into bolus. It lubricates the joint through synovial fluids. It strengthens the tissues and stores the energy. 

Psychologically kapha provides stability, fertility, energy, patience, generosity to a human being.

At glance we can say-

  • Vaata (air) reflects all the neurological and respiratory functions.
  • Pitta reflects the working of the whole alimentary canal.
  • Kapha is related to all the mucosal bodies and fluid present in our body.
Three Doshas in Ayurveda.

Three stages of doshas

Doshas are found in 3 stages in our body. These stages are- 

  1. Equilibrium– When the three doshas are balanced in natural and appropriate proportion, then the stage is called equilibrium.
  2. Aggravated- When any of the doshas or 2 or all three increase in their normal proportion, then the stage is known as aggravated stage.
  3. Decreased –When any of the doshas or 2 or all three decrease in their normal proportion, then the stage is known as vitiated stage.

Each of the dosha gets aggravated if we do or eat the things in excess, which are of the same characteristics as that of the dosha and vice versa .On the other hand if we intake every meal in a maintained way, all the doshas stay in equilibrium stage.

Now the question arises what to do and what not to do so that doshas remain stable in the body. For this you can have your diet and lifestyle according to your Prakriti. 

What is Prakriti?

Have you ever thought about what makes us different? No , not the fingerprints I am asking about our nature and habits. Have you ever thought why someone loves to sleep while the others can’t even have a sound sleep? Why is someone too talkative while the other one remains quiet. Why does somebody never gain weight even if he/she eats a lot while others gain too much even if they eat only 2 chapatis? Of course you haven’t and neither of you know the reason behind these facts. The answer to this is Prakriti

Prakritiis composed of these doshas. Prakriti can be of one dosha for example (Vataprakriti) two dosha( Vata- Pitta prakriti) and it could be of three doshas as well.

What are the characteristics of a person with Vata, Pitta, or Kapha Prakriti?

Every individual is born with Prakriti and this Prakriti remains the same throughout life. 

Doshas are influenced by the food we eat, the seasons, our actions, thoughts and emotions. To fulfil our desires we make changes in our lifestyle and diet. This imbalances the doshas and thus becomes the cause of disease Lets have a look at the different Prakriti. 

Vata Prakriti

The person with Vata Prakriti has slender and small framed body with flat chest. They are the lightest among 3 body types.They have brown skin tone. Their skin is dry, rough often cracked and is cold in touch. They generally have curly hairs and thin eyelashes. Veins and joints are visible in Vata prominent people. 

Physiologically

  • They never have sleep sound and sleep less in comparison to others.
  • They have variable appetite and digestion. That means sometimes they are hungry and other times they don’t eat a bit. 
  • They  sweat less as well
  • They love to eat sweet, sour and salty food and enjoy hot beverages
  • They urininate in spare amounts and the pass hard, dry and little stool.

Psychologically

  • They learn very fast but forget it too early. That means they have quick understanding but short memory.
  • They are too imaginative.
  • They loose their confidence and tolerance quite easily and get nervous and scared more often. 
  • They easily earn money but are spendthrift.
  • They are talkative and have habit of talking and walking quickly.
  • Get sexually aroused easily but do not last long
  • They are lively and fun-loving.

What you should eat and do?

One with Vata prominent should-

  • eat fruits, nuts and cooked vegetables. 
  • can add dairy products in your diet as well.
  • should meditate, do yoga and should walk daily.
  • The habit of going to bed early and following your daily routine will never vitiate your Vata. 

What you shouldn’t do? 

  • Never eat food in large quantities that aggravate vata like peas, dry grains and cauliflower.
  • Should avoid smoking and alochol.
  • Should avoid beverages like coffee and black tea.
  • Should not eat food while you feel depressed and are anxious.
  • Going bed late at night and irregular routine.

Prone to health issues like headaches, sore throat, high blood pressure, diarrhoea, constipaton, menstrual cramps, ejaculatory disorders, back pain. They are prone to the diseases related with joints and nervous system.

Pitta Prakriti

The person with pitta prakriti is of minimum height and has delicate body frames. They have less prominence of veins and bones in their body if compared to vata person. Their skin tones can be fair or wheatish in colour. They have redness in their skin. The skin is warm and soft in touch. If you have pitta prominence then you must have experienced premature whiting and hair fall. This is the tendency of people with Pitta predominance. These people have soft nails.

Physiologically

  • They have sound sleep but the duration is less.
  • Their digestive power is very strong and and have good appetite. This means they eat in large quantities and more often get hungry. 
  • They perspire too much.
  • They are found of bitter, sweet and astringent foods and like to drink cold beverages.
  • They urinate in large amount and pass yellow, soft stool in quite a large amount.

Psychologically

  • They have sharp memories and are intelligent
  • They are short tempered and get jealous and irritated quite easily. They are competitive in nature
  • They are ambitious and tend to be orators.
  • They are romantic and have endurance more than vata but less than kapha personalities.
  • They like to spend money and love to exhibit their wealth and previous possessions.
  • They are courageous and joyful.

What you should eat and do?

  • Vegetables, beans and food that are cold you can add in your diet.
  • Should eat in peaceful environment. 
  • Should meditate and should do calming yoga and exercise. 
  • Try to keep your body cool avoid over heating.

What you shouldn’t do?

  • Foods that aggravate pitta like red meat, eggplant and food are that are sour in taste. 
  • Being over competitive.
  • Avoid working too much.
  • Avoid alcohol, smoking, black tea and coffee.

Prone to health issues like acne, skin cancers , ulcers and other diseases related to skin. They can also experience acid stomach, anaemia, insomnia. These people are prone to vision and skin related problems.

Kapha Prakriti

People with kapha prakriti have well developed body frames. They have tendency to gain weight and are often overweight. Due to thick skin, veins and bones are not prominent in these people. They have fair and bright skin tones. Their skin is soft, oily and cold in touch. The wavy black hairs and big eyes make them attractive.

Physiologically

  • They experience sound sleep for long duration.
  • They intake less food and have the slowest digestion among the three prakriti.
  • Their perspiration is moderate.
  • They like food which is astringent, bitter and pungent in taste.
  • Their faeces are light in colour and are soft.

Psychologically

  • They learn slow but have tremendous retaining capacity. That means when they learn something they learn it by heart and it is retained for long time.
  • They are calm and tolerant but may be sometimes greedy. They are easily attached and too possessive.
  • They arouse slowly but their endurance lasts long.
  • These people are wealthy. They earn money but don’t spend it much.

What you should eat and do?

  • You should increase fibrous food like fruits. 
  • Should sleep and rise early without sleeping in day times.
  • Should differentiate when some is being nice to you or is taking your advantage.
  • Should do fat burning yoga and exercises, do meditation and writing.

What you shouldn’t do?

  • Avoid eating foods that aggravate kapha like dairy products and sweets.
  • Avoid being lethargic and indoor loving person.
  • Spending more time in cool and damp places.
  • Don’t be over possessive and attach less to the things.

Prone to health issues like cold and cough, asthma and many more. These people are prone to respiratory problems.

The other Prakriti are the combinations of these three doshas. Other prakriti can be :

  • Bi- doshic
  • Tri- doshic

Bi- doshic prakriti

This means that you share the qualities of two different doshajprakriti. Mostly everyone of us is bi- doshic. These prakriti can be-

  • Vataj – pittajprakriti
  • Pittaj–kaphajprakriti
  • Vataj- kaphajprakriti

This means that your prakriti is the combination of two. In bidoshajprakriti one dominates the other. This varies in from person to person. 

Bidoshicprakriti can be managed according to season. That means you should maintain your diet and lifestyle according to the seasons and their effect on doshas. For example, if your prakriti is Vataj- Kaphaj then, during spring you should eat diet that doesn’t aggravate Vata as Vata predominates during Autumn. Similarly in cold season you should follow up the do’s of Kapha.

TridoshajPrakriti

If you have tridoshajPrakriti then it means that the three doshasVata, pitta and Kapha are present in equal amount in your body. A tridoshaj person can be very stable and strong when in a balanced state. But when unstable, his health can be poorly deteriorated. 

In  tridoshajPrakriti, formula for keeping yourself balanced is same as that of bidoshajPrakriti.

Formulas for all to live healthy wealthy and peaceful life

  • One should rise early in the morning this is one of the important keys for healthy life. 

                “ब्राह्मे मुहूर्ते बुध्येत स्वस्थो रक्षार्थमायुषः॥ “ ( Ref: Bhavprakash 1/24)

  • Diet should be taken according to need of the body. It should neither be taken in fewer amounts nor in extra amount.

                 “युक्ताहारविहारस्य  युक्त चेष्टस्य कर्मसु। 

                  युक्त स्वपनावबोधस्य योगो भवति दुःख हाः।।”  ( Ref: Bhagwatgeeta) 

It is also mentioned in Ayurveda that:

When diet is wrong, medicine is of no use. When diet is correct, medicine is of no need.

  • A wise person should suppress mental urges pertaining to
  • Lobha – greed,
  • Shoka – grief,
  • Bhaya – fear,
  • Krodha – anger,
  • Mana – vanity,
  • Nairlajja – shamelessness,
  • Irshya – jealousy,
  • Atiraga – excessive desire
  • Abhidhyaya – ill will, malice.
  • One should exercise daily.
  • One should regularly take Shashtika (a kind of rice harvested in sixty days), Shali (rice), Mudga – green gram or Averrhoa carambola, rock salt, Amalaki (Amla – Emblica officinalis), rain water, ghee, meat of animals dwelling in arid climates and honey.
  • Some urges should not be suppressed; they are urine ,stool, vomiting ,sneeze ,burp, yawning, thirst, hunger, tears, sleep and gasp.
  • All drugs and diets which dislodge the various Doshas (vaata,pitta,kapha) from their proper place, but do not expel them out of the body should be regarded as lethal .
  • No walking after eating leads to obesity. On the other hand the person who walks regularly lives healthier and longer.

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